It’s that time of the week where I tune into my next-level thoughts. These are the ones below my usual self-centred “in my head” dialogue. The thoughts beneath the tactical: what am I going to do today; I have so much to do today; I have too much open space in my day. The flaw-finding, neurotic focus on self and others. Instead, it’s a meander into: what have I learned? What messages are coming to me that I need to notice? What is compelling to me? What do I need to say in my blog?
Some weeks, the guidance is subtle. The universe gives me options. Not today. Not this week. Since I wrote about resistance and the path to acceptance last Tuesday, I have been handed challenges and invitations to continue the exploration. This morning I had three separate dispatches in my inbox about addiction. These are daily readings–not usually so heavily themed. They scream: pay attention!
In my life, addiction has been a disease of resistance, avoidance and disconnection. I am in recovery from decades of alcoholic drinking. Even after many years of sobriety, and actively working a program of mental, emotional and spiritual growth, obsessive resistance lurks in the empty spaces of my day. In the restlessness of the freedoms sacrificed to Covid. It still shows up in the dash between 5 and 8 pm. That was my time to drink.
In those times, in those emotion-laden spaces, I am seeking a way out of feeling and noticing. Sometimes, it’s easy and natural: attend to dinner preparations, have a conversation with family or friends over a drink and cheese tray. Other times, it’s not. I am noticing the wine choice conversations, the mixing of the cocktails, the seemingly endless stretch of time until dinner is on the table. There’s the resistance. There’s the magnetic pull to my laptop to escape into a Netflix series; to my bedroom to read; to the kitchen to fold napkins and shake the already made salad dressing yet again.
The pandemic has taken away much of my coaching business. It has given more open time and space, which often feels like the dash between 5 and 8 pm. I am being reminded that addiction is a life-long occupation. And in recovery, addictive tendencies lurk. At least, mine do. Now I am meeting the resistance, which dresses up as restlessness and boredom and gets blamed on the pandemic, with other unhealthy habits. My screen time, a mindless search for irrelevant and disturbing information, has doubled. I aimlessly cruise on-line shopping opportunities to buy things I don’t need, with money I don’t have. The rush of adrenaline when I press “confirm the order,” with the anticipation of a box on our porch, is like a drug.
My primary resistance activity is watching Netflix. The almost unconscious settling into a state of passive entertainment and disengagement. It feels like a warm, dark and safe hiding place for me. The low lights of the screen, the make-believe personalities, and the detached tragedies winding through each episode calm me. Until I realize I missed a spectacular sunset, the dogs didn’t get their walk, I didn’t return a call. Resist, avoid, repent. That’s a pattern of living I’m all too familiar with.
I know that in these resistance patterns, I am small and one-dimensional. The flat energy, disengagement, and feeding of the habit robs me of light and energy. And I know that instead of nurturing the beast, I must turn the energy of resistance into empowerment. For me, that means moving outdoors to walk, garden, read and write, rather than sitting with a backlit screen on my lap, or phone in my hand. It means starting a conversation, staying in a conversation, seeking out a connection. It means being in my life, rather than avoiding it. Most of all, it means sitting with the resistance, feeling the itchiness and discomfort of stretched tolerances. Rather than seeking a form of numbing avoidance. Because that’s where addiction lives.
At least, that has been my experience.